Khon Kaen cave is a monolithic rock formation located in central Thailand, on the southeastern part of Koh Lipe Peninsula in Lower Bokeo Province, Thais. The monolith dates back to at least 25,000 years ago and continues to emit natural gas and particulates from the earth, an indication that it was once active for millions of years (from about 7,500 to 8,800 BC ago) and have been in use for hundreds if not thousands of years already.
The structure consists of a long, narrow oval rock cave and two round pillars extending out of the center of the rock cave into the sea surrounding the cave. This gives the shape a sort of “eye”, a vertical opening through which light enters and exits the cave.
Khon Kaen cave is approximately 30 miles south of Phuket and 30 miles north of Chiang Mai, but its location makes it one of the most accessible sites in lower Bokeo Province, due to its geographical location. The area of this cave is fairly pristine with no human settlements or dwellings. It has very little infrastructure and tourism-related activity, although, some small villages are available within the cave walls, such as Paeng Moo and Kow Ting Village respectively. Other than being isolated and far from civilization, this cave has few natural disasters that have occurred in the area. There is a massive landslide in 2012, with people injured and several caves reduced to rubble. But despite all these natural hazards, the cave remains open for tourists to visit and many people flock here during summer months, especially since there are also fishing boats available nearby.
The cave’s wall is made of white limestone and red ochre, much like those used in traditional Thai artworks. The cave ceiling features a huge crater formation that contains red ochre, a sign of a past fire fire of which, archaeologists believe, there were also smelted items of silver. During the construction, workers apparently had to cut down the ceiling. This formed an irregular circle of holes in the cave floor. Archaeology officials also found a ring of red ochre stones near the entrance where they found a lot of blackened red ochre. The workers uncovered the uppermost layer of a hollow cave ceiling. According to the archaeologist who helped excavate the cave, this cave had been carved by hand, before being covered by layers of clay. Workers also discovered pottery of a kind used long before, known as khon kaen. In the cave, stone tools from previous Stone Age period were being used while new ones have been added to make them fit with the cave’s current level of development. Such tools included axes, spears, and hooks. New and old equipment that were found at the cave include bamboo wools that were probably used during the early stages of cave building. As mentioned earlier, the caves floor is covered with clumps of red ochre and other items dating back to over 10,000 years ago. They include large spires of green ochre, red ochre, and black ochre that appear to be as old as four to five thousand years ago.
The main part of the cave can be reached in a mountain biking trail or from Krabi island, a distance of 90 minutes by boat from Sukhothai. An alternative route is via a ferry service that runs from Muang Nga Pier to Koh Sakhu pier in Bangkok. A bus service is available from downtown Sukhothai to kohSakhu/Sijuek beach. Visibility is poor during the day when low clouds block the view of the cave entrance. At night, you need to turn around to go to the cave’s entrance via a gap in the cave wall. You may see only light from the tunnel in the cave entrance and may not get any visual signal of what’s inside. Some animals that live in the cave as well as small birds and various reptiles can be spotted around the cave during night hours due to their glow in the dark features. However, they will eventually disappear after dusk.
A trip to Khon Kaen cave is incomplete without a viewing of a giant Buddha image. In order to reach this spot, you must first climb down towards the end of the cave where a cave entrance is visible. Afterwards, climb up the hillside until the base of the rock formation looms above your head and gaze upon the Buddha sitting on top of the rock formation. Then walk along the edge of the rock into the cave entrance and go toward the cave’s entrance.
Khon Kaen cave is situated in Lower Boeor Province, close to the border with Myanmar. Tourists can visit during spring or summer season. When visiting Krabi Island, boats to Krabiu island and Koh Somporn islands are available for transport. Or you can take transportation from Phuket city to Koh Somporn islands and then transfer towards Krabi island. If you want to stay overnight on Koh Somporn islands, it will cost you about Nu 2,700 per person, but the prices are a bit lesser than that of Krabi island. These islands are popular tourist attraction especially during winter season, because of its beaches, mountainous scenery, and sandy shoreline.
If you are looking for a more relaxing time, Khon Kaen cave should be considered one of the best places of interest to spend your weekend; you’ll find only peaceful peace inside this cave, thanks to its unique environment.